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How can you budget when you’re flat broke? How can you get out of debt when you’re in so deep you’re not sure where to start? You may have all of the dreams and aspirations in the world to get your debt paid off, but how do you begin when there’s not even money to make ends meet? It may be a challenge to pay off debt when you just have enough cash, but I am here to say, you CAN do it. You can make and follow a budget when you’re broke. Let me tell you how.

1. Go over your situation and assess:

I know that when I sit down every month to pay my bills, I am overwhelmed and instantly frustrated, but sitting down and assessing your finances is a very very important first step. Now is the time to write down every asset and liability you have. For liabilities, write down who you owe, how much you owe, the minimum payment and the interest rate you’re paying. For assets, write down who has your money, how much money they have and what interest rate you’re earning.

Also, write down exactly how much income you’ve got coming into your household. If you’re on a commission basis, average last year’s income, or use your base pay amount if you have one. Knowing exactly where you’re at financially is the first step to budgeting when you’re broke.

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2. Get a budget going, and decide what’s more important

Now that you know what your assets and liabilities are, it is time to get down to the dirty and start your expenses. You will need to write down your bills in order of priority. First, all your most important bills should be first, such as your mortgage/rent, and your utilities. Second, go to your loan payments, credit card bills, anything that will impact your credit score. Lastly, should be your non-necessity items like; phone bill, cable, extra activities for your children, or any entertainment. Your first priority should be the necessities.



Okay, now it’s time to get to the nitty gritty and the most unfun part of budgeting, and it’s not easy. I am not here to tell you to cut your cable off…but I am here to tell you this is the time to assess and figure out your “needs” vs “wants”. Do you REALLY have to have that new shirt that you saw at the store earlier this week? Do you REALLY need your cable? This really needs to come down to what you and your family NEEDS to survive vs what you want to look good or feel good.


I am here to tell you this is TOUGH, real tough, but it has to be done if you are serious about getting ahead. Really take a long look and decide what things you can live without until you can get ahead. You can always come back to those thing once you can actually afford it. Use those savings towards your debt.


And stick to it. Remember your necessities come first. If you absolutely HAVE to, let the others be late. Be careful with that, some will accrue late payment fees, then you are just accruing more debt. Can you and are you able to get a second job? Are you willing to get a second job? Are there other ways you can make money such as a yard sale? If you can do it, do it and put that extra money towards your debt. Work on trying to get lower interest rates on credit cards or loans. You really can’t know if it is possible unless you ask.

My family accrued medical debt when my Husband didn’t qualify with insurance through his job yet. We probably racked up a good $20,000 just for one emergency visit. It’s terrifying…but we were able to qualify for an adjustment because of our income, but we had to call and get it set up. Also, some of the bills will offer you a settlement if you can pay a lump sum, but you have to ASK.

Budgeting can be seriously daunting. But, it can be done. We have done it, and continue to do it. There are plenty of times we have to sacrifice things in order to accomplish a certain financial goal. Really, just imagine the day you won’t have anymore debt to worry about…ahhh, that will be the day. But, really in the end I promise, your hard work with be worth it.




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23 thoughts on “How to Budget when you’re Broke

  1. Hey girl! Yes. I have the first two steps mastered and I’m working towards really cutting expenses. I’m SOOO budget minded but at the same time I wonder if I’m saving too much for the unplanned while that money can be spent towards paying off my debt.

    Posted on 08/20/2017 at 10:48 PM
    1. I totally understand that! But, always gotta have some backup money just in case, if you’re able to that is!

      Posted on 08/21/2017 at 6:22 AM
  2. Thanks for the great read Raechelle! It’s never easy budgeting, and I think we take it for granted that people do it and learn how to. The reality is, we live in a society now of ‘get now, pay later’ (we haven’t really got the choice a lot of the time) and it’s a dangerous place to be if we don’t budget! So thanks for the post 🙂

    Posted on 08/21/2017 at 1:20 AM
    1. So true Taylor! Thank you.

      Posted on 08/21/2017 at 6:21 AM
  3. Really great advice. That first step can be painful, but is oh so necessary. Never avoid it!

    Posted on 08/21/2017 at 5:07 AM
    1. Absolutely!! Thanks!!

      Posted on 08/21/2017 at 6:20 AM
  4. Correction to website typo … oops!

    Posted on 08/21/2017 at 5:08 AM
  5. Thanks for this useful post! 🙂 Sadly I still have to figure out, how to earn enough money to pay for everything myself. There are no expenses to cut off for now. 🙁

    Posted on 08/21/2017 at 5:26 AM
    1. I’ve been there!! You can do it. Takes a lot of hard work.

      Posted on 08/21/2017 at 6:20 AM
  6. Nice post! Some good reminders to live on a budget whether broke or not. But, definitely encouraing to know it is doable, even if you feel like you are going paycheck to paycheck.

    Posted on 08/22/2017 at 9:27 AM
  7. Creating a budget when you are low on funds is a daunting task, but so necessary. The hardest thing is sticking to it and making the sacrifices needed!

    Posted on 08/22/2017 at 10:03 AM
  8. These are really helpful tips. I’ve been looking for ways I can budget even when on a low income, and this has been a helpful quick guide. Thanks for sharing

    Posted on 08/22/2017 at 11:05 AM
    1. Thank you, Stephanie!

      Posted on 08/22/2017 at 12:47 PM
  9. Great post 🙂 very informative and useful!

    Posted on 08/22/2017 at 11:33 AM
    1. Thank you!

      Posted on 08/22/2017 at 12:48 PM
  10. Thanks so much for the tips. As a freelancer, I am always needing to find better ways to budget as the money isn’t always coming in. A stop at the ER like you mentioned or any kind of emergency terrifies me because I don’t know where I am going to get the money sometimes. Appreciate it!

    Posted on 08/22/2017 at 1:11 PM
  11. Completely agree with all these tips. As a recent college grad, trying to figure out life and get myself out of debt, I realize the importance of budgeting even if I am broke. I’ve made a plan to be debt free by 25 or 26, and I can’t wait until I start back work in China to get started!

    I’m currently trying to figure out what expenses to cut. Realize most of my expense are food-related lol

    Posted on 08/22/2017 at 9:16 PM
  12. I’m trying to learn to budget. But man the hardest thing is wants vs necessities. I just want to spend and spend, but slowly I’ve been doing better! Thanks for the tips

    Posted on 08/23/2017 at 8:02 AM
    1. It is hard, but once you get used to them…it gets a lot easier!! You got it!

      Posted on 08/23/2017 at 12:06 PM
  13. Some very good points. Poverty is a big issue for some, but I think many people could save $50 – 100 a week if they manged their money better.

    Posted on 08/23/2017 at 12:50 PM
    1. I agree, thanks Bryce!

      Posted on 08/23/2017 at 9:26 PM
  14. Thank you so much for this article we cringe anytime this word is spoken and have avoided it at all cost. I know we need to do it so thanks for the helpful hints!

    Posted on 09/20/2017 at 9:02 AM
    1. I completely understand Thersa!! I always had a hard time with our budget, but the more you do it and stick to it, the better you get at it and then it’s like second nature to you. Good luck!

      Posted on 09/20/2017 at 10:04 AM